Three Wins for El Paso Master Gardeners!
June’s monthly Master Gardener meeting was extra special as we celebrated our winning streak at the Texas Master Gardener Conference in McKinney, TX. This year we were recognized with three awards in our new category of Large Association for 2015:
• 1st Place for “Outstanding Individual Master Gardener” was won by Jan Petrzelka. We all knew Jan was a winner and now the entire state of Texas knows it, too! This award is for an individual Master Gardener whose involvement and contributions during the award year are of primary importance.
It was the good fortune of the El Paso Master Gardeners Association to benefit from Jan Petrzelka’s vision and dedication as she selflessly served as president and leader for the years 2014 and 2015. Jan is not only a leader, but she also excels at speaking engagements. At most of these, Jan shared techniques on propagation and container gardening of plants adapted to El Paso’s dry climate. Jan has continued to be a tireless ambassador for Texas A&M AgriLife and a leader and role model for all Master Gardeners. Through community outreach opportunities, she has encouraged many El Paso area residents to nourish and respect our challenging environment by following sustainable gardening practices.
• 1st Place for “Written Education” was won by our El Paso County Master Gardener website. Congratulations to the website co-chairs Mary Ann McCravey and Marlene Stalker for all their hard work to make our website a real winner, not only for El Paso, but for the entire state of Texas!
The Written Education award recognizes any form of printed material which is created and written by Master Gardeners as a tool for education. This includes newsletters, pamphlets, calendars, websites and mass media. Our website was recognized for its updated website design and content which provides an enhanced, one-stop, online information kiosk containing the most current, research-based horticultural literature, information and internet links germane to gardening in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert environment. We prominently display notices of upcoming events by Texas A&M AgriLife, educational partners, and El Paso Master Gardeners to increase public awareness and participation in activities that include information tables, speaking presentations, patio talks, workshops, community college classes, and demonstration gardens. The website also provides enhanced, user-friendly, 24/7 online access throughout the year to our Help Desk and Speakers Bureau.
• 2nd Place in the Project Category was won by our Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden. Congratulation to 2015 co-chairs and advisers Bev Clark, Marianela Milner and Veronica Garcia, and all the dedicated El Paso Master Gardeners who followed their lead to create, maintain and share this gem in the desert. Way to go Ascarate!
The Project Category recognizes a project which is at a physical location. It should display best horticulture practices for educational purposes, i.e., a demonstration garden, school/community garden, or permanent display, etc. The Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden has raised beds, square-foot gardens, keyhole gardens, container gardens and compost bins. It is maintained by twice weekly workdays with additional time dedicated to development of educational activities. In 2015, Master Gardeners hosted events for schools and camps, educated visitors about good gardening practices using Earth-Kind® principles, provided hands-on training for Master Gardeners, Interns and community college volunteers and donated over 1,800 pounds of vegetables to a local food bank. Using research-proven techniques that maximize garden efforts, the Ascarate Teaching and Demonstration Garden is a true educational gardening resource for youth, their families and the public.
Special thanks to Carole Haupt, Awards Committee Chair, and her team for their award-winning job in the preparation and submission of these entries. Also, thanks to our wonderful El Paso County Extension agent, Denise Rodriguez, for her support, encouragement, final review and official submission of the awards to the Texas Master Gardener Association.
Each year the Texas Master Gardener Association, in cooperation with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Texas A&M University System, recognizes and presents awards for exemplary achievement.
Contributors: Lou Ellen Clement, Carole Haupt and Marlene Stalker.